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German coalition squabbles over EU immigration

January 2, 2014

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s governing coalition is squabbling over calls to restrict welfare payments to European immigrants as the continent’s labor markets open to Romanians and Bulgarians.

The conservative Christian Social Union, one of three governing parties, is suggesting other European Union nationals should be ineligible for social security for their first three months in Germany and welfare cheats should be expelled to combat “poverty migration.”

Labor-market restrictions across the EU for people from Romania and Bulgaria, two of its newest and poorest members, ended Wednesday — fueling fears, particularly in Britain, of an influx of unemployed migrants.

Center-left Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Thursday’s edition of the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung freedom of movement for workers is “an essential part of European integration.” Questioning that principle, he says, damages Germany and Europe.

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